The Difference A Year Makes


One year ago today... I found myself sitting in a rocking chair under a gazebo on Tom Sawyer’s Island at Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, deep in some existential thought. As I rocked the afternoon away, the guests all around me scattered in the rain thanks to the incredibly temperamental Florida weather, which brought a slight smile to my face.

I rocked back and forth simply praying about what was next for me, because at the time I was still working and living in Kansas City and was here in Orlando visiting my brother for Christmas. I had no clue what was to come just a few short months later or even just a few hours later…

When the rain ceased I sloshed through the puddles to the shuttle that would take me to Downtown Disney to meet with the teaching pastor of a very strange church, a church that met in a ballroom at a hotel inside the gates of Walt Disney World, and existed for the Cast Member of WDW.

As I trekked through the hotel doors I met a bearded flannel (or plaid) wearing guy who was indeed Brady, the pastor of this odd “Disney church.” He was more than generous with his time as we sat on the floor of the lobby and got to know one another and hear each other’s heart for bringing the Gospel to life for Disney Cast Members all around the world.

After our time together I stayed for the church gathering and was blown away by the youthfulness, passion, and authentic faith that was leaking out of everyone there. I left that night speechless because of the message, amazed by the worship, slightly depressed from the knowledge that I may never return to this church, and out of breath because I had to literally sprint to meet my brother at Epcot for dinner reservations.

I never thought I would be here because just nine months before I thought God had clearly told me NO on my Disney dream when Disney declined to hire me into the College Program in March. I buried that dream, I moved on, I was more than happy and fulfilled with my role in KC at LifeQuest Church.

I wonder what the disciples must have felt after Jesus died. They grieved the lose, and began picking up the pieces of what they believed was a failed dream of the Messiah. But God is in the business of resurrection. He rose from the grave and changed the world forever!

Then his follow up act was a few simple words, a commission for his followers…

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 ESV).

An unexpected mission given. The disciples would have never guessed this would be what was to come as they clung together in a small room fearing for their lives after Jesus’ died. How could they? Their faith was so small, their hearts were void of all hope.

But here they stood being commissioned to GO and live missionally by the Resurrected Christ!

I would have never guessed that just a few months later this weird Disney church would bring me on mission with them, or that Disney would hire me! I thought God closed all doors of that variety, but instead he simply had a different path for me to get there… One that included giving up MY dreams and MY plans so that I could follow Him.

I now live ten minutes away from that island that I prayed on, I now belong to the community of Cast Members and others known as Mosaic WDW, I now count that bearded pastor as one of my closest friends and greatest mentors, but most of all I (and the disciples) now know that to follow Jesus’ plan is so much greater than I could have ever imagined… especially 365 days ago.